NEW YORK – Reaching decibels usually reserved for ball games and boxing matches, former Vice President Al Gore (search) on Wednesday denounced the Bush administration policy in Iraq and called for the resignation of three central players in the War on Terror.
Delivering a fiery speech at New York University, Gore said Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld (search), CIA director George Tenet (search) and national security adviser Condoleezza Rice (search) should immediately step down.
"How dare they subject us to such dishonor and disgrace! How dare they drag the good name of the United States of America through the mud of Saddam Hussein's torture prison!" Gore bellowed.
"I am calling today for Republicans as well as Democrats to join me in asking for the immediate resignations of those immediately below George Bush and Dick Cheney, who are most responsible for creating the catastrophe we are facing in Iraq," Gore said, drawing strong applause from the partisan crowd.
Gore said Rumsfeld is lacking good judgment and common sense and the nation is at risk every day the civilian leader remains secretary of defense. He accused Rice of mismanagement of her role.
"She has badly mishandled the coordination of national security policy. This is a disaster for our country," Gore said.
Dave Bossie, president of the conservative group Citizens United (search), said Gore's rant was merely a way to cover his own failings.
"While Al Gore and Bill Clinton occupied the White House, Al Qaeda successfully attacked U.S. interests many times with virtually no response. [Gore's] speech blaming the current administration for the problems he and Bill Clinton left behind is another attempt to rewrite history,” Bossie said.
Tenet, the director of Central Intelligence, has been in office for seven years, having worked in the Clinton administration at the time of the two attacks on U.S. embassies in Africa in 1998 and the USS Cole bombing in 2000. Gore took it easier on Tenet than the other Bush officials, calling him a friend and "honorable man" who should still leave his position for intelligence failures.
But the former vice president held nothing back about his views of the mistreatment of inmates at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. Gore, who blamed the incidents on more than "a few bad apples," accused the administration of abandoning the Geneva Conventions.
"It was the natural consequence of the Bush administration policy," he said.
Gore said reservists photographed abusing prisoners "were clearly forced to wade into a moral cesspool designed by the Bush White House," he said.
He said the crisis in Iraq has generated fierce anti-American sentiment and provided a strong recruiting tool for terror groups.
President Bush "has exposed Americans abroad and Americans in every town and city to a greater danger of attacks by terrorists because of his arrogance, willfulness and bungling at stirring up hornets' nests that pose no threat whatsoever to us," Gore said.
Gore said that because of the war, Iraq has "become the central recruiting office for terrorists."
The speech was one of several Gore appearances sponsored since August by MoveOn.org, whose political action committee has been buying up millions of dollars worth of television advertising space to blast Bush and the administration. Most recently, the group crafted a television and radio ad calling for Bush to fire Rumsfeld.
Gore, who served in Vietnam, predicted greater problems for America's involvement in Iraq. "The worst still lies ahead," he said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.